You know, we all may have been bam-boozled! It’s true. I hate to be the bearer of less than good news, but that can of pumpkin in your pantry likely contains more than just pumpkin. It’s possible that it contains at least one of several varieties of…..wait for it….squash. Yeah, I know. Say it isn’t so. Sorry. It is.
But, before we all start tearing up with seasonal sadness here, let me just point out, it does taste like pumpkin. And it is the color we expect of pumpkin. Further, it makes a delicious pie. So, there we have it. A can of pumpkin-tasting squash.
Anyway, I discovered this information a year ago, during the time I fell in love with the flavor of pumpkin in a savory dish. I don’t think I’d had pumpkin in anything other than sweets, like Pumpkin Cake or Pumpkin Bread. Then this Pumpkin and Sausage Lasagna (which I highly recommend!) rocked my pumpkin world. It was a revelation! The lovely layers of pasta, sausage, ricotta cheese and pumpkin were not only beautiful, they were sinfully delicious! This past Sunday, I wanted that flavor again, but didn’t have the nearly 2 hours it would take to assemble and bake a lasagna. So I made this quick Pumpkin Penne with Sausage and Spinach. It’s very much like a Penne Alfredo, but with a different kind of richness that comes from the pumpkin instead of all the cream that is usually in an Alfredo sauce.
The flavor of pumpkin in this Pumpkin Penne (or any savory dish, for that matter) actually isn't one you think, "Wow! That's pumpkin-y!" I think we all (meaning me) have come to believe the flavors of brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg are the flavors of pumpkin. Pumpkin itself (or the squash that calls itself Pumpkin) is relatively lacking in flavor, and takes on whatever ingredients and spices we combine with it. In the case of this pasta dish, I crisped up a few sage leaves and a sprig of rosemary, and added Sweet Italian sausage and spinach to the party, along with some Parmeggiano-Reggiano. Magnifico!
So, don't feel bad about eating a squash that is better known as "Pumpkin", it's all good! In fact, it's all delicious when you add it to Pumpkin Penne with Sausage and Spinach! Enjoy!Print
Pumpkin Penne with Sausage and Spinach
A tasty Fall pasta dish featuring sausage and spinach. Sage and/or Rosemary add perfect autumn flavors.
- Prep Time: 5 mins
- Cook Time: 30 mins
- Total Time: 35 minutes
- Yield: 8 Servings 1x
- Category: Pasta
- Method: Stovetop
- 16 oz. Penne Pasta
- 1 lb bulk mild (sweet) Italian Sausage
- 2 T Olive oil
- Small sprig fresh Rosemary
- 4–6 Sage leaves
- 22 oz. (3 cups) Pumpkin Puree
- 3/4 c Half-and-half (or whole milk)
- 1 clove Garlic, minced
- 1/4 t grated Nutmeg
- 5 oz. Fresh spinach leaves
- 1/2 c Freshly grated Parmeggiano-Reggiano cheese
- 1 T Cider Vinegar
- 2 c reserved Pasta water
- Red Pepper flakes – optional
Make the pasta
- Prepare pasta al dente according to package directions. Just before pasta is done, reserve 2 cups of the salted pasta water.
Make the sauce
- In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil. When oil is hot, saute the rosemary sprig and sage leaves until crispy. Remove from oil to a paper towel. Reserve.
- Add the sausage to the hot oil. Cook until done. Drain any excess fat.
- To the sausage, add the pumpkin purée, half-and-half, garlic, nutmeg, spinach, Parmesan, Cider Vinegar. Stir until bubbly, adding reserved pasta water as necessary. (I ended up adding 1 1/2 cups of the reserved water.)
- Simmer the sauce an additional 2-3 minutes until heated through. Add cooked pasta. Add additional reserved water as needed. Important: Test to see if you need more salt, you may need to salt generously. Transfer to serving dish. Top with reserved herbs, chopped if desired.
- Add red pepper flakes and additional Parmeggiano-Reggiano at table, as desired.
- Serving Size: 1/8 recipe
- Calories: 350
heather (delicious not gorgeous) says
kind of like when i find apple juice that has grape juice in it! i tend to like all squash anyways, so i’m not too cut up about the pumpkin that’s not pumpkin (; this pasta sounds super cozy and perfect for dinner!
It’s interesting how many packaged foods have apples or grapes in some form, isn’t it? Like muffins that have apple pieces pretending to be blueberries! Seems crazy but it apparently works.
Totally agree ! Two hours for lasagna during working week: no, too much time ! But this : this is a winner! Thank you dear Laura !
Thanks! I agree, if you can have delicious in a short time, all is well! Hard to sacrifice either of those, isn’t it?
David | Spiced says
Interesting! I had no idea they were pulling the switcheroo and adding squash to the canned pumpkin. I guess I’m ok with it? But is pumpkin that much more expensive than squash? Either way, I’m like you…I typically think of pumpkin and desserts together, but I had a pumpkin ravioli one time that was amazing. Now I want to try this pumpkin penne…it sounds amazing! Perfect for the season!
I think the switch is due to a texture issue – apparently traditional pumpkin species are stringy? But there are a few Squash are pumpkin-colored and pumpkin-flavor so it may make some sense? Some brands, however, use true pumpkin varieties. Anyway, it’s pumpkin season, so we might as well eat all the sweet and savory pumpkins we can, eh?
Kelsie | the itsy-bitsy kitchen says
But I hate squash! I guess if I can’t recognize it’s squash I don’t really hate it? Whatever that canned stuff is, I won’t quit eating it. This pasta sounds un-freaking-believable. I’m craving it like nothing else now!
I like your logic! I think sometimes what you don’t know can’t hurt you, so ear the squashy pumpkin and don’t even think about it. (Apparently Libby’s is all- pumpkin FYI).